Canterbury Street Pastors is a group of trained local volunteers that patrol the City on Saturday nights in order to care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets. Two of their members recently came to talk to us.
Our Community Services Committee is often approached by charities and other causes. Inviting their representatives to present to the Committee is a nice way for us to hear about their work or cause in a more informal setting than at our main meetings.
Canterbury Street Pastors Margaret Northey and Gemma Witts came to visit us (in uniform) and tell us more about their work and the way they are set up. Like many charitable organisations, raising funds to support their work is a major challenge. Right now the charity has a pressing need for funding, which is threatening the future of its work - currently they only have enough funds to continue operating for three months.
The charity has been operating in Canterbury since launching in 2010. Each Saturday night the pastors go out into the City to interact with those on the street. They gave the example of a typical Saturday night, when a team of four will:
- help calm aggressive social situations
- spend time with homeless people that they encounter
- engage with the public
- help with first aid
- give out bottles of water to those who have had too much to drink
- support the vulnerable. Sometimes this means that they stay will people until they are sober, arrange a taxi, or help them arrange a lift home
As well as the above they give out flip flops to clubbers to prevent injury to their feet on broken glass.
Patrols are in radio contact with door staff, the police and their District Watch. All patrol volunteers are trained to listen, care and help in a non-judgemental manner.
Currently Canterbury has over 20 active street pastors from a variety of churches. They patrol the streets every Saturday from 10pm - 4am. They work closely with Canterbury City Council and are well known to bar staff, nightclub owners and door staff. Their presence was commended in the Purple Flag accreditation report.
The Street Pastor scheme was set up in London in 2003 and since then over 12,000 volunteers have been trained.
After hearing their presentation and learning more about Canterbury Street Pastors' immediate funding difficulties our Community Services Committee agreed to provide modest funding of £300; a cheque will be given to them shortly.
We wish them well in their endeavours and encourage those of you who are interested in their work to find out more about them from their website (see below).
Find out more about Canterbury Street Pastors.
Picture: Canterbury Street Pastors Margaret Northey and Gemma Witts together with PP and Chair of our Community Services Committee David Barton. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.